Just put one foot in front of the other and eventually you get somewhere, even if you don’t exactly know where you are going.
The Electricity of Every Living Thing is a book about that kind of activity. Katherine May sets out to walk the 630-mile South West Coast Path, UK’s longest National Trail, a few days at a time. She doesn’t train for the challenge or even really plan for it in the traditional sense. And, the surprising thing to me was that she negotiated her regular life around the days she spent on the trail.
About halfway through her memoir, Katherine May recalls coming to a literal fork in the road where she has to choose whether to go left or right. She muses,
Fareham is far away from where I live, and sounds impossible to walk to. But then, isn’t impossibility the point, sometimes? Shouldn’t we all ask ourselves to do impossible things, just once in a while? I touch the sign with my gloved hand, and take the right turn towards Fareham.
The great idea I had about restoring our backyard by Easter seems improbable today. I’m not ready to say impossible, yet, but that could also be true.
During the last 10 days, professionals have displaced me. The carport and attached shed have some new walls, porch posts, and a torched roof. Strong arms dug up the yard again for perimeter drains around the shed to stop the rot. The apple trees have been pruned. The pruning folk weren’t actually professionals, just our experienced friend with her how-to-book and Mitch on the ladder.
What I’ve been “doing” is not seen with the eye. I can see that I cleaned up around new rose growth, uncovered ground cover, and unearthed lots of worms, that made their way back under. But what I’ve done most diligently is hidden: observing all kinds of landscaping as I walk the neighbourhood, paying attention to old pictures of this home in its glory days, and pondering care tags, price tags, and considering all the plants at the Demitasse Café and Garden Centre.
After feeling overwhelmed by all I don’t know about plants, I was captured by a Star jasmine. I imagined how it might flourish in the corner of our yard behind my swing. Maybe, it could vine over the swing’s wooden frame or trellis up the aging fence. The trouble is I have no idea if that is possible; I don’t know how to get that kind of breathtaking result.
I do know something about Jasmine. I know that in 2013, I sat every morning for a week in a swing enveloped in its fragrant abundance. I know how I couldn’t wait to sit peacefully in that surround and smell the sweet blossoms and enjoy my cup of coffee as the day began. I can see that spot in my mind’s eye even now. I am sure that recreating that sense of retreat would be a good way to resurrect that unsightly corner.
Katherine May turned right and simply walked on. Maybe, I can take that risk. Impossible will take a little more time. I just have to turn right into the garden centre and bravely bring the Star Jasmine home with me.